EPC contractor sought to build El Menzel pumped-storage project in Morocco

Morocco’s state power and water utility, Office National de l’Electricité et de l’Eau Potable - Branche Electricite (ONEE-BE), invites prequalification bids by 11 July for the design, supply of equipment, installation and commissioning of the 300-400 MW El Menzel pumped-storage hydropower plant.

The closed-loop project, which is to be equipped with two reversible pump turbines of between 150-200 MW, is scheduled to enter into commercial operation by the end of 2028, according to a tender notice published on 18 May. The project to be built in El Menzel, about 35 km southeast of the town of Séfrou, in the northern province of Séfrou, in the region of Fès-Meknès, will contribute to the country’s clean energy transition by allowing for greater integration of variable renewable energy, whilst improving grid stability and helping to meet peak electricity demand, according to ONEE.

It will be the country’s third such plant. The 465 MW Afourer pumped storage station in Azilal Province was commissioned in 2004, while the under-construction 350 MW Abdelmoumen plant in the province of Taroudant is scheduled to be commissioned by the end of 2023.

ONEE has secured co-financing for the project from the Islamic Development Bank though interested bidders can as an option offer to co-finance. This, though, will not be a criteria for prequalification.

The scope of contract, to be completed in a period of 48 months from contract signing, will entail: (i) engineering studies for civil works and equipment, (ii) civil works of all parts of the pumped-storage scheme including preparatory works and associated auxiliaries, (iii) the supply and installation of all main and auxiliary equipment including design, manufacture, transport, assembly, testing, commissioning and technical assistance during the period of guarantee and (iv) implementation of all measures to mitigate environmental and social impacts of the project as laid out in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment and the Environmental and Social Management Plan.

The project, which is to be developed on a plateau 350 m above sea level on the left bank of the Oued Sebou, will comprise an upper and lower reservoir and underground powerhouse, which will be linked by an underground hydraulic circuit offering a gross head of between 250m to 300 m for a flow of 117 m3/s to 137 m3/s: a high-pressure circuit with a length of between 900 m to 1320 m, and a low-pressure circuit. The upper and lower basins are both designed with active storage capacities of between 2.1 x 106 m3 to 3 x 106 m3. An underground cavern will comprise a principal cavern for the two vertical Francis pump-turbines, a secondary cavern for the auxiliary transformers, and an area in-between to house the downstream valves for the units. A compensatory system will also need to be developed to transfer water from the river Sebou to the lower basin to make up for any water losses from leaking and/or evaporation. The selected contractor will also be required to supply and install a transformer station and 400 kV transmission line spanning around 22 km as well as access roads to the project sites.

Qualifying criteria for interested contractors includes financial capacity of €38 million, a turnover of €150 million over the last five years, general experience as a construction group for the last ten years and specific experience as a contractor, as part of a consortium or as a sub-contractor, of two pumped-storage projects over the last ten years with a minimum value of €240 million. On the basis of the prequalification tender, a shortlist of contractors or groups of contractors will be invited to submit firm offers in a final round of tendering, which is expected to take place in Q4 of this year.

The prequalification tender dossier in French can be viewed and downloaded from the website of the Portail Marocain des Marchés Publics (Moroccan public procurement portal) at http://www.marchespublic.gov.ma or on the supplier section of the ONEE’s website at http://www.one.ma. The tender dossier is also available for free upon written request by email to stepelmenzel@onee.ma and/or j.lfilali@onee.ma or by fax to +212 5 22 43 31 12 or directly in person from the offices of the ONEE at the below-mentioned address. Completed applications should be submitted in person or by recommended mail by 09.00 hours local time on 11 July to the address-below. For all further information, contact: Direction Approvisionnements et Marchés, Office National de l’Électricité et de l’Eau Portable – Branche Électricité (ONEE BE), 65 Rue Othman Ben Affan – BP 13 498, Casablanca, Kingdom of Morocco; Tel.: +212 522 66 83 89; +212 522 6684 03; Fax: +212 522 43 31 12/522 43 33 15: E-mail: stepelmenzel@onee.ma; j.lfilali@onee.ma